Former football star makes the adjustment to the diamond

Glenn Cook always envisioned himself wearing cleats and a helmet while training in scorching hot temperatures after his tenure at the University of Miami.

Cook, a former linebacker at the U from 2003-2008, has fulfilled his dream of playing sports at the next level. But he is wearing baseball spikes and a batting helmet, and playing rookie ball in Mesa, Ariz., in the Arizona League.

The former Cane standout was drafted as an outfielder by the Chicago Cubs in the 46th round as the 1,400th pick overall in June’s Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. He had not played baseball since his junior year of high school in 2002.

“It was just a huge sigh of relief,” Cook said. “I had my computer open and I was just sitting around and my mom was following it online. She was the first one to see the news. I took a screen shot with my computer because it’s cool to say you are drafted.”

Bypassed by all 32 NFL teams in the NFL Draft last April, the 6-0, 228-pounder only received one free agent tryout, and that was with the local Miami Dolphins.

“I really didn’t know what the future had in store for me,” he said.

In 2007, Cook graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in marketing and earned his master’s in sport administration in 2009 after he was granted a medical redshirt.

A heralded athlete out of Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory School in Hollywood, Fla., Cook was a two-sport athlete excelling on the gridiron and on the diamond. He played outfield and pitcher, but quit baseball his senior year to focus solely on football. The 26th-ranked linebacking recruit in the nation chose UM over Tennessee, Florida and Florida State.

Although he was a leader for over half a decade with the Canes, Cook’s future was up in the air until his phone rang one morning in May.

“A baseball scout called me up and told me about a tryout in Clearwater, Fla.,” Cook said. “The next day I was in there taking grounders, batting practice and running. I had to borrow a glove because it had been a while.”

The scout was Polando Pino, a talent evaluator for the Cubs who is in charge of recruiting the South Florida region.

“A buddy of mine called me up and remembered watching [Cook] play in high school,” Pino said. “I thought it was worth the chance because he is a good athlete. I wanted to see what kind of skill set he had. He showed me good bat speed, good hand-eye coordination and great foot speed for someone who hadn’t played baseball in a really long time.”

At first, the transition was difficult.

Former Hurricanes first baseman Yonder Alonso, who currently plays minor league baseball for the Cincinnati Reds, gave his college friend some advice.

“Yonder just really helped me prepare mentally for baseball,” Cook said. “It is such a mental grind because you are playing six or seven days a week. In football it’s just 12 big adrenaline rushes. You just got to take things one day at a time.”

He continues to work hard and is determined to succeed at the next level.

“I’m putting in a lot of hard work,” Cook said. “Each day I just try and continue to improve.”

August 26, 2009


Justin Antweil

Senior Sports Writer

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